Joined: 13 Jun 2018
|Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:09 am Post subject: But he can
|When Jon Halapio joined the New York Giants' practice squad in 2016 Lorenzo Alexander Jersey , Brett Jones was one of the first guys to welcome him.
Jones had joined the Giants the previous year as a center in trying to make the jump from the CFL to the NFL, and he appreciated when some new teammates made him feel welcome.
Why not do the same for Halapio? The two 27-year-old offensive linemen became real good friends and helped each other become better players.
Halapio, a guard at Florida, taught Jones some trade secrets at the spot and Jones taught his buddy how to snap and play center.
A little less than two years later, Jones is fighting to keep the starting center job he manned the final 12 games of last season. And it's Halapio, who is the main competition.
Not only is he the competition, Halapio has been getting most of the first-team snaps in the lineup being put on the field by new coach Pat Shurmur.
Jones isn't worried. It's early in training camp and nothing is set. He also has no regrets about teaching the guy who might take his job.
"It's always been like that in my life," Jones said Monday. "If anybody ever gave me an opportunity I wanted to repay it to them. So that was my thing. Jon was on the practice squad and I was the backup center and if Jon was going to play I wanted to help him out and do what I could. That's what a good teammate does."
Learning to snap was part of the mentoring.
"He had asked me and I sort of gave him the basic training for it," said Jones, who was the CFL's most outstanding lineman in 2014 and missed his first season in the NFL the following year because of a training camp injury. "After practice we would stay and practice snapping. It sort of went from there."
Halapio took the long road to the NFL. He was drafted in the sixth round by New England in 2014. He was on the Broncos' practice squad that season and went to the Cardinals and Patriots training camps in 2015 and '16, respectively, getting cut each time.
The Giants signed him to the practice squad for most of 2016. He was cut in training camp the following season and re-signed to the practice squad. Injuries got him on the active roster in October and he played in 10 games with six starts at guard.
The move to center came this year.
"Everything was new so I had to learn a lot, not only the schemes, but the different techniques and calls Jeff Heuerman Jersey ," Halapio said. "I had to learn a lot."
The biggest differences are blocking from a balanced stance, having to make line calls and read coverages and sometimes making the shotgun snaps.
"The more you do it, the better you get," Halapio said. "In the offseason I snapped a bunch, and even now I keep snapping after practice so it's second nature."
Halapio admits fighting Jones for a job felt odd at first.
"It's just pure competition now," Halapio said. "Like coach says all the time, don't read into who's taking the first-team reps. Everyone is being evaluated. As far as me and Brett goes, we're friends. We help each other out in the film room, on the field, outside of football. Nothing is awkward between us. Yeah, it's just pure competition between us and everybody in the room."
The Giants have revamped their offensive line after last year's disastrous 3-13 season. Guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg signed elsewhere as free agents. Guard John Jerry is now a backup fighting for a roster spot.
Patriots free agent Nate Solder was signed to take over at left tackle and 2015 first-rounder Ereck Flowers was moved to right tackle. Second-round draft pick Will Hernandez is the left guard and free agent Patrick Omameh is the right guard.
The center spot is uncertain.
A former center, Shurmur says he is watching the position closely. He wants his centers to be good communicators.
Halapio might be a little stronger than Jones, who probably understands the job better and had 30 NFL games under his belt at guard and center.
It should be an interesting decision for Shurmur.
Dwyane Wade’s first NBA game was in Philadelphia.
His last NBA game may have been there as well.
Retirement is a very – very – real option for Wade, who has been not-so-quietly saying for weeks that he isn’t sure if he’ll be back next season. The offseason is here now Rod Smith Jersey , after the Miami Heat were ousted by the 76ers on Tuesday night in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round series, and the face of the franchise may have taken his jersey off for the final time.
He has not decided.
But some of his closest friends believe this could really be the end.
”I appreciate y’all concern,” Wade said in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. ”But we’ll worry about that later.”
Of course, his fans want him to come back. One prominent fan cast her vote before he even left the floor after Game 5.
”I hope this isn’t the end, but my God,” his wife, Gabrielle Union, wrote on Twitter. ”Dwyane Wade has a career most people dream of. He is a damn legend. An icon. And he’s cute.”
No one, not even Wade, knows how long this process will take. He’s going to talk to his wife. He’s going to talk to his kids. He’s going to talk to the Heat, and he’s going to talk to the people within his inner circle that are trusted most.
Wade isn’t a starter, but it could be argued the three-time NBA champion is still Miami’s best player. Wade carried the Heat to victory in Game 2 and got them on the brink of a win in Game 4. He doesn’t run as fast or jump as high as the version of himself known as Flash did, but he’s still capable of delivering big moments.
If Wade is done, the last visions fans will have of his career will be with him in a Heat uniform Shannon Sharpe Jersey , still doing his thing. That matters to him. He isn’t Michael Jordan going out in a Washington jersey, or Patrick Ewing playing his last game with Orlando, or Shaquille O’Neal limping away from his NBA finale in Boston colors.
He wouldn’t be going out on top, but he’d be going out in the right uniform and still playing at a high level.
One way or another, his career always was going to end in Heat colors anyway. He wasn’t going out in a Chicago jersey, nor a Cleveland jersey. He had to wear ”Heat” across his chest again, and when the Cavaliers traded him to Miami in February, it immediately became obvious that Wade was changing franchises for the final time.
Resume-wise, he’s more than good. He’s got three NBA championships. He’s got an Olympic gold medal. He’s going to the Basketball Hall of Fame. He’s going to go down as one of the best two or three shooting guards in the history of the game. The only guys with as many points, rebounds, assists and blocked shots in their regular season and playoff careers as Wade? Jordan is one, LeBron James is the other.
Here’s something else to consider: Wade has never wanted a farewell tour. He watched Kobe Bryant go through it, noted how much of a grind it was for the Lakers star, and doesn’t want to hear the same questions in every road stop next season.
What’s the motivation to return?
That’s the unknown.
Wade is set financially. So this decision won’t primarily be about money. Even after a brutal divorce and custody battle a few years ago Xavier Woods Jersey , Wade will never worry about cash. He’s well-invested, has deals that will continue working for him well after his playing days end, and will make millions next year whether he’s wearing sneakers or suits.
The Heat have serious cap challenges and won’t have a bankbreaking deal to offer Wade this summer. He won’t play for the minimum. He won’t get anywhere near the maximum. For him to return, it’ll have to be worth his while. He spends a ton of money to keep his body right. And if Wade can make more off the court than on it next year, it might make sense for him to retire.
Plus, put simply, Wade wants more time with his family.
His oldest son, 16-year-old Zaire, is finishing his sophomore year of high school. Zaire can play. He gets attention because of his father’s name, but his game is real. The next couple years will be critical to his development as a ballplayer, and his dad wants to have the time to share as much wisdom as he can.
So clearly, there are good reasons for Wade to retire.
But he can still play. And that might be the reason to come back, one more time.
Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org
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